40 years of barcoding in Australia

At the GS1 Nexus Conference in Melbourne and Sydney last month, GS1 celebrated 40 years of the barcode in Australia.
Maria Palazzolo, CEO at GS1 Australia spoke highly of how far the barcode has come, along with great praise for Bill Pratt, a pioneer of barcoding in Australia.
“What originally started in retail now touches every single industry in this country. Across manufacturing, logistics and healthcare the GS1 standards are helping businesses become more efficient. The foundation of the standards can be used in every sector and it is fair to say that these standards have revolutionised Australian businesses for the past 40 years,” she said.
One of the keynote speakers at the Nexus 2019 Conference was Robert Beideman, Global Chief Solutions and Innovation Officer at GS1. Robert spoke about the importance of technology, and how organisations can use data in a meaningful way.
For him, GS1 standards give organisations the ability to link between technology and business.
Robert spoke of the need to understand shared business problems, prioritise them and then look into how technologies may help solve these issues. According to Robert, a good place to start is data security and privacy.
“It’s a $200 billion industry already. This means we have the opportunity to do better when it comes to the amount of data we consume, that we share across enterprise, or we share with our trading partners. It is a huge trend,” he says. But he then asks delegates to consider the question of what we are doing with that data.
Secondly, Robert spoke of the increased  push for traceability standards. For Robert, end-to-end traceability has not yet been realised but as consumers are becoming more and more demanding there is a requirement for organisations to offer total traceability. “People want to know where the stuff they buy is coming from. Where it has been and what it is made of. These business drivers are on the rise,” he says.
In addition, sustainability presents a number of opportunities and challenges as well as automation. “You have smart cities, smart factories, smart homes and you have smart health.” Robert asks: “With all these business challenges and issues arising every day, how do you prioritise?”
For Robert, these challenges also present opportunities for organisations to serve customers more efficiently. “It doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, a brand or a transport company, you need to consider how this future impacts your business.”
Robert then poses the question of how to react as an industry. Here he offers valuable insights into what GS1 can offer and how building standards within industry removes costs and creates better experiences.
GS1 recently released a new report to help businesses understand these trends and how to react. The report takes all of the technology enablers and maps them against business trends.
“Whether you are in the logistics space, or part of the supply chain, the contents of this report can be helpful for you prioritising the technology investigations that you choose to do, or how to map them into the business challenges you are faced with solving,” he says.
For GS1, the future will allow every retailer to verify every product that every brand makes, automatically. In this arena, GS1 is working on four things that can help realise this future.
The first is a registry platform of all the things that have identification based on GS1 standards. Secondly, merging the digital and physical world will be key, says Robert.
“There’s a standard out there that now bridges the physical and digital world of commerce that allows you to put a single barcode on a package that works and goes beep at the checkout, but also works on two billion mobile phones,” he says.
Thirdly Robert spoke of the importance of the need to use a common vocabulary. “The key is defining and describing products online in a way that has no impact on how your consumer sees your webpage. We’ve established the GS1 Web Vocabulary which enables this,” he says.
Finally, Robert spoke to the possibilities and opportunities with regards to voice and identification technology. “Think about how devices that talk to you – like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri – are changing the game when it comes to things like buying decisions. It’s starting now with a conversation with an electronic device. How are you going to adapt to that in your business? How are you going to ensure that your company is going to have a voice? That’s something to think about. Because right now, there is a world filling up with companies that own the microphones in your home and in your pocket via your mobile phone. And if you are a retailer, a brand, a transport organisation – how do you connect into those ecosystems,” he says.

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